July 12, 2019
Sadly, our trip has come to an end as we say our final goodbyes and give each other our last hugs. It’s insane to think that this phenomenal second group of students has come and gone in such a short two weeks. We have had the most remarkable time watching them grow and learning alongside of them – all while having so much fun with everything we did.
We began the final section of our trip at the beautiful Point Reyes National Seashore with an evening activity of Iron Chef! The students were able to use anything they wanted from the food supply of our trip, while also supplementing their menus with items from a grocery store, learning how to budget, and work as a team. The Mexican-themed team of Louise, Simon, Grace, Tyler, June, and Suzie whipped up a beef nachos appetizer, refried beans, and tacos for the judges, along with a sparkling pink lemonade drink with a slice of lime. They finished their meal with a dessert creatively made from Rice Krispies, chocolate chips, and peanut butter. The French-themed team of Henry, Trane, Annabeth, Bennett, Anna, and Ava impressed us with a charcuterie board and grilled ham and brie sandwiches on a baguette, with Trane’s special of “Bear Poop” for dessert. He created a pan full of melted marshmallows and chocolate, with a graham cracker crust. It was truly a hit for everyone! With funny skits and accents, the French team came out on top in the end, winning the lucky prize of getting out of clean up crew!
The next morning we were lucky to have a flexible schedule, so we all were able to sleep in! We slowly got out of our sleeping bags and prepared breakfast burritos and cinnamon rolls! We filled our bellies with bacon, eggs, avocados, salsa, and a nice sweet treat to get ready for the day ahead. The LODs, Ava and Suzie, decided on the hike to get the day going. We piled into the van with many snacks in tow and hit the trail! We reached the most spectacular sand dune, where we were able to run, jump, and play for hours. Everyone enjoyed relaxing in the sun before we headed back to the van. We decided to explore the town for the rest of the afternoon and see the unique stores the town had to offer, and we even got to sneak in an ice cream stop too!
When we made our way back to camp, we were surprised by a spontaneous water balloon fight! We all cracked up chasing each other and cooling down after a hot day in the sun and Henry double-crossed anyone and everyone and emerged victorious. After drying off and taking some much welcomed showers, Liz, Maddie, and George surprised the students with a hibachi-style dinner full of grilled steak, shrimp, fried rice, sautéed vegetables, pot stickers, and yum yum sauce! Dinner was a hit for the whole group and we all loved being able to eat a final meal together in our crazy creeks. Our hibachi-induced food coma had everyone in bed early, preparing everyone for our crazy last full day of the trip!
We packed up our tents for the final time the next morning as we made our way towards San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge! Everyone was amazed by the historic suspension bridge and loved looking back into the city from the high view. After our walk, we drove to a thrift store where everyone was able to pick out wild outfits for our banquet dinner. Bennett rocked an oversized salmon sweater and a fun floral hat, Henry portrayed a great 80s style, and Louise, AB, and Suzie were named the “cheetah girls” in their fun animal print bathrobes! We made our way to a delicious local Mexican restaurant in Half Moon Bay and ended the evening with celebratory ice cream cones. The leaders also made fun “paper plate” awards for the kids and we had a dance party in the car before heading back to our campsite for the night. During our final Moonup, LODs Simon and AB led a final nug jug, where we gave out our final nugs of the trip and reflected on all of the incredible memories we shared together. For the question, we each went around and spoke about the person to the left and the right of us. It was such a meaningful way to reflect on the special relationships we have made with one another. AB, Suzie, Simon and Louise closed us out with an amazing rap/mash-up of all of our favorite songs of the session that had us all singing along! We snuggled into our sleeping bags and slept under the stars as a group, comforted by our sweet and fun-loving group.
As leaders, we cannot thank you all enough for sharing your impeccable kids with us this summer. Their resiliency, bravery, and humor truly made our trip so special. It was so incredible to watch them all grow and become more confident in themselves and their capabilities. Their strength and willingness to try new things and live in the moment was truly inspiring, and we cannot wait to see all of the incredible things they do in the future. Thank you for following along with us on this fun-filled journey and we can’t wait to keep in touch with y’all!
With warm hearts and lots of love,
Liz, Maddie, and George
July 10, 2019
We are coming off of an incredible two-day high from our adventures in Lake Tahoe! The drive to our mountainous campsite by the lake went quickly, and we had an unexpected free afternoon on our hands. We spent this extra time the only way we know how… with an ice cream bar and tie-dyeing Moondance t-shirts!! We enjoyed a variety of ice cream flavors with so many options for toppings (whipped cream, M&Ms, and chocolate syrup were crowd favorites)! Afterwards, Anna led the charge showing us all the proper tie-dye techniques for different patterns, and Suzie proudly showed off her new rainbow-splattered shirt! For dinner, AB and Grace made “the best Caesar salad Bennett had ever eaten” along with a staple in a great diet: mac-n-cheese! The entire group put their bear-protocol knowledge on display cleaning up the meal, and their diligence and attention-to-detail paid off as we had no bear encounters!! Our LODs, Henry and Louise, led Moonup where we described everyone in the group in one word. We snuggled into our sleeping bags for an excellent sleep, before rising early to the brisk temperatures and sun of the mountains of Tahoe.
We reluctantly climbed out of our tents and enjoyed bagels, english muffins, and fruit before heading down to Emerald Bay for our kayaking lesson. LODs Trane and June gave us some words of encouragement as we dipped our toes into the cold water, still so excited to paddle and explore! Our superb guides took us all the way around the bay, and every student excelled in this activity as the wind and water currents were strong. We were so proud of their teamwork and communication in the two person kayaks, and everyone successfully made it to the island in the middle of the lake for a break. We got to explore the remains of an old castle and warm ourselves in the sun before heading back into the water. We paddled to our lunch spot at the end of the bay, before finishing the afternoon with a calmer paddling section on the way back. We even got to do a race in the water, with June and George took home 1st place! Louise and Tyler had a strong start, before a wrong turn led them to paddle perpendicular to the course and stop every other boat! It was a funny accident that had us all laughing.
We finished the afternoon with sore arms and big smiles, and the leaders told the kids we were going on a long afternoon hike but instead surprised them by driving up to explore South Lake Tahoe! It was so relaxing and we all were able to get some cool souvenirs and scrumptious ice cream sandwiches. We made our way back to camp and explored the area around us, playing soccer, making bracelets, and enjoying one another’s company. June, Anna, Ava, and Grace taught George some new dance moves, and Simon, Henry, and Tyler tested out their climbing skills from Yosemite on the rocks near our campsite. We all relaxed before Maddie and the fabulous cook crew of Trane, AB, Simon, and Ava made us chicken curry with rice and vegetables! We closed the day with a Moonup talking about what makes us happiest and carried these positive vibes with us to bed.
On our last morning in Tahoe, we rose excited for our second day on the water. After a delicious breakfast of crispy hashbrowns and tons of fruit and bagels, we were fueled up for paddle boarding. We paddled around a beautiful portion of the lake by the beach, and Anna, Grace, Suzie, Louise (and an attempt by George) showed us all up by doing headstands on their boards! Soon after, our group learned about the fictional lake monster, Tahoe Tessie. While the monster usually stays in deeper water, Tahoe Tessie Louise decided to strike and everyone was soon in the water, giggling and having an absolute blast. The warm sun was welcome in the chilly water, and we were all ready to hit the road after a great day on the lake.
We are all so sad that the trip is winding down, but we are so excited to continue our adventure to Point Reyes and squeeze in more fun memories with one another! On our way, we made our local food stop for lunch at the California-famous In-N-Out and enjoyed some awesome burgers and fries! We will for sure be getting a great night’s sleep tonight and are so pumped to explore the seashore tomorrow! It is crazy how fast this trip has gone by, and we all are making the most of these last moments with our tight-knit group. We’ll see you all soon!
George, Liz, and Maddie
July 7, 2019
Our amazing group is coming off such a high right now from our 2 day rafting excursion on the American River – it was by far our favorite activity and we had an absolute blast!! After a restful nights sleep following our long drive, we were ready to go when Trane, Anna, and Louise crushed as cook crew and made us a Moondance delicacy – egg moon muffins! This bacon-egg-and-cheese combo was a huge hit, especially with Maddie’s favorite “everything but the bagel” seasoning. Already soaking up the bright morning sun, we were so ready to get into the water.
Our amazing rafting guides got us amped after prepping us with a safety lesson and with our orange life jackets and bright blue helmets on, we were ready to race the waves. While cruising down some insane rapids, Bennett and Henry entertained their boat with a rendition of “American Pie” that had us all joining in. After enjoying a delicious lunch prepared by our outfitters halfway through the lower portion of the river, both boats had a blast playing games and jumping off the raft during the calmer portions. Grace was by far the most persistent, jumping in between boats to make sure everyone got in, and Louise’s laughing was infectious and had us all cracking up! Suzie held strong against her entire boat’s attempts to throw her overboard (until Annabeth was finally successful!) and Trane and Simon really got a kick out of pushing Liz fully off the boat causing her to do a back flop!
Once we got back to cozy Camp Lotus, we had some free time to hang out with one another and our rafting guides, making fun bracelets and enjoying many laughs together. Our guides made us the most incredible dinner of steak, grilled chicken, salad, pesto pasta, and brownies for dessert! It was such a treat to take a step back from the kitchen and enjoy a delicious meal with our guides. We ended the night with a wonderful Moonup led by LODs Anna and Tyler where we talked about our proudest moments. It put us all in a great mood and we were ready for a good night’s sleep!
After such a fantastic first day, our group was pumped for another day of rafting. Our outfitters provided us with yet another delicious meal – our breakfast included eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, pastries, and tons of fruit that had our bellies full and fueled! We drove up to the upper portion of the south fork and were stoked to get back in the rafts. Both boats did fun paddle “high fives” and chants before coasting through the class 3 rapids. We had such a great time and were all smiles as we made it through the roller coaster waves! The chilly water was welcomed as the sun shone down on us, and Anna went “bull riding” on the raft while AB, June, and Maddie all jumped in together at the end. Ava and Grace led the group’s paddling rhythm after lunch, while others in the group rode on the front of the boat.
Overall, rafting was such a fan favorite among the group and we had such an incredible time. We are so proud of how all of the kids went in fearlessly and had such a positive attitude the entire rafting trip. Huge nugs to our outfitters for keeping us safe and ensuring we had the best time ever! After some awesome showers at the outfitter center, we are ready to hit the road and head to Lake Tahoe for some more paddling activities!
We cannot wait for more adventures and four more days of laughter, singing, dancing, and spending time with one another. We’re so impressed with how much we have grown as a group, and we are ready to pack in so much more in the rest of the trip. Talk to y’all soon!
Maddie, Liz, and George
July 6, 2019
We arrived to our beautiful campsite just outside of Yosemite National Park on Monday night. This place quickly felt like home, and we already felt so fortunate to spend the next four nights here! Our first night we cooked pasta with pesto under the stars, and we were so excited to explore the campsite for the first time in the morning.
We woke up to a stunning view of snow-capped mountains overlooking Lake June and began munching on a Moondance specialty, Davis Wraps! Davis Wraps are grilled tortillas filled with peanut butter, nutella, granola, and tons of fruit. These for sure fueled us up for the day ahead, as our LODs, Simon and Ava, decided on Dog Lake Trail for the day’s hiking excursion. They got us pumped for the trail with a meaningful quote and a great playlist. Everyone absolutely crushed the steep incline and rock hopping, which led us to a spectacular lookout of the lake. We relaxed and ate lunch, while also exploring the trail and playing in the snow! After we hiked back down, the group decided we were all incredibly deserving of a famous June Lake Market Milkshake to top off the afternoon. We spent the rest of the day swimming in June Lake before making personal pita pizzas for dinner! The fabulous cook crew, Louise, Ava, and Tyler cheffed up an array of toppings to go on our grilled pizzas, which were a huge hit with everyone.
The next day began bright and early, and we fueled our bodies with oatmeal and fruit before heading to Tuolumne Meadows to meet our climbing guides. We all got shoes fitted, harnesses assigned, and helmets strapped before a short hike to the ridge. Our climbing spot for the day offered a spectacular view of the east end of the park, filled with snow capped mountains and rivers. Ava was the first brave soul to get herself up the mountain – a huge nug to her! Our LODs, Annabeth and Bennett, reminded us of how important safety is during this activity, truly showcasing their leadership and maturity within the group, while also constantly encouraging everyone to be brave and have fun. After about six hours of rock climbing, we made our way back to the campsite for a little bit of downtime to hang out. The three leaders were mostly impressed with how supportive the students become of one another during rock climbing, as it can be one of the most physically and mentally challenging activities during the trip. Our crew is full of students with such huge hearts and smiles for one another, which has been one of our favorite parts as we watch them grow and encourage themselves and one another.
For dinner, the all-star cook crew of Bennett, Grace, and June learned how to make Pad Thai in the woods from Liz! All you need is some ramen, stir fry veggies, peanut butter, and soy sauce to make quite the hit of a meal! AB and Bennett opened Moonup in the best way they knew how – to rap an original song! It was a huge hit and they continued the theme by impressing us with the introductions of the new LODs by making the funniest songs about them! We loved their creativity and humor. They also lead us in a reflection of who inspires us the most in our lives, before we all ended with passing the “woah” and snuggled into our sleeping bags.
We woke up bright and early once again on Thursday, the best day ever, THE FOURTH OF JULY!!! Trane continues to be the first one up in the morning, excited to help with breakfast and packing the Uhaul for the day. He has been a rockstar when it comes to teamwork and helping with tasks. LOD Suzie got everyone hyped up by being the most decked in her many accessories and screaming to Party in the USA, while the other LOD Henry gave us some words of wisdom for perseverance during our second day of climbing. All the kids sported their red, white, and blue in addition to beaded star necklaces, top hats, and glittery butterfly wings, which made for some excellent climbing accessories. Maddie whipped out a patriotic toast recipe, showing the students how to line their blueberries, bananas, and strawberries on a layer of cream cheese to replicate the American flag. After loading in the freshly decorated van full of toys and trinkets for the 4th, we made our way into the park, ready for the next climbing challenge. Simon was the first to the top this morning, proudly naming the mountain “Mt. Gusher” inspired by our mid morning sugar boost. Despite feeling nervous about their fear of heights, Anna and Grace made us so proud and conquered their fear, quickly climbing to the top up not long after. Anna even asked for George to throw her a “woah” on her way up the mountain! Bennett was also a stand out motivator during our second day of climbing, as he watched and belayed so many of his friends during their climbing attempts. We could not have been more proud of them, and our hearts were so warmed by their fearlessness and desire to challenge their capabilities.
After a few hours of climbing, we descended back to June Lake, ready to feast for our cookout! We totally knocked it out of the park with our buffet of burgers, hot dogs, Mac and cheese, baked beans, watermelon, chips and salsa, and Oreos! After we were all stuffed from the delicious food, Suzie and Henry led our most thoughtful and serious Moonup yet. Their question allowed us to grow closer as a group, while also showing how comfortable and supportive we are of one another. We all reflected while being awe struck at the star filled sky above us before snuggling into our tents after an awesome day.
We woke up Friday morning to the chill of the snowy mountains, but ready for our next adventure. LODs June and Grace discussed our plan of hiking to El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, so that we could see the sight of the famous documentary, Free Solo. Once we arrived, the short hike was well worth it, as we even got to see a person attempting to climb all the way to the top! We made a quick stop at the gift shop for some snacks and souvenirs before hitting the road to get to our next adventures – the rafting section!
Everyone cannot believe how quickly the first week has gone by, but we are ready to take on the days and activities we have left, always living in the moment with these sweet kids. We have thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend time with your amazing children, and we are amazed everyday at their knowledge, wit, humor, and teamwork. They are an impressive group of young minds, and we feel lucky everyday to be sharing this with them!
Talk to y’all soon!!
Liz, Maddie, and George
P.S. Suzie wishes her mom a happy birthday!!
July 2, 2019
Greetings from California!!
We are ecstatic to be starting this trip, and the first three days have not disappointed! We began our day by meeting all our new friends in the airport and soon after took off for our first campsite. We filled the afternoon learning each other’s names, setting up tents for the first time, and hanging out in the hammocks by the beach. Leaders Liz, Maddie, and George showed everyone how comfy our new tent homes will be, as well as teaching the 7 principles of “Leave No Trace.” For dinner, we dove into some pizza, which was accompanied by Suzie standing on the table to sing and dance for us! This first night set a great tone for the trip so far, as our family of 15 has already shared so many laughs. Our first Moonup was on the beautiful beach of Half Moon Bay at sunset, and we all reflected on the reasons why we came on the trip. The first Leaders of the Day, Louise and Tyler were selected and were stoked to get the trip started!
On our first morning, our first cook crew of Louise, Tyler, June, and Anna, learned the ins and outs of our Coleman stoves, while preparing a delicious spread of pancakes and fruit for us all to enjoy. Henry and Ava crushed as the first cook crew with Maddie and learned their way around the U-Haul! After breakfast, we packed up lunches for the day and headed to our afternoon surfing lesson. Our guides fitted us all in the proper wetsuits and booties to be warm in the Pacific Ocean and got us totally stoked to hit the waves!
We dove into the water, ready to hit some waves – and we did exactly that! Almost every student and leader was able to get up fully on their boards. The guides did an incredible job of teaching us the right moves and perfecting our “pop ups.” Simon challenged some opponents to see how many waves they could surf in a certain amount of time, while Grace and Trane truly showed us how it was done, getting up countless times. Suzie and Louise absolutely crushed it, catching so many of their own waves without any help!
After a few hours of hard work on the water, we welcomed a little bit of time to relax back at the campsite, hanging out on the beach. We brainstormed some songs to make a fire playlist for our upcoming van ride and Suzie gave us all fun nicknames! Our cook crew of Grace, Simon, and Annabeth made an incredible quesadilla dinner with delicious appetizers and alllll the toppings. The fantastic meal closed with Liz’s famous skillet brownie scramble and put us all in a great mood going into Moonup. LODs Louise and Tyler set an amazing tone going into our first student-led Moonup where we have our nugs for the day and discussed some of our happiest memories we’ve had in our lives.
After a full night of rest, we were ready to wake up with the sun for our second day of surfing! After a quick dance party in the van to warm up our bodies and some morning wisdom from LODs Anna and Trane, we were ready to roll back into the water. As we put on our wetsuits, Grace and Ava set the tone of the day by making personal goals of getting up on their boards at least 5 times! Our guides prepped us with some more advanced techniques, and we rushed into the waves with more confidence than before. While the waves were big, our mighty students did swimmingly! Bennett and Henry showed us true resiliency as they went back into the waves every time they rode one to shore.
After drying off and thanking our guides for all of their help, we ate lunch at the beach and had a quick dance party with another Moondance group before heading out to our first long road trip together – June has been the queen of the playlist and knows the words to every song!As leaders, we are already so pumped to have these 12 kids with us on our California journey. They have already shown us so much fearlessness among their unique personalities and we’ve already shared countless laughs together. We cannot wait to continue our adventure and for all that is to come! We are so stoked to be in Yosemite for the next couple of days and to tell y’all about it soon!
Maddie, Liz, and George
Shoutouts to home!!
Trane: Miss you guys! I am having lots of fun!
Bennett: I miss you and look forward to seeing you!
Anna: I’m having so much fun, I miss and love you guys and the dogs! Thank you for signing me up.
June: I miss you guys, and this is such a good adventure! Love you. Thank you for this opportunity!
Simon: I am having a blast, and I miss y’all and love you.
Henry: I love you guys, I am having a great time, and I hope we can go to McDonald’s when we get back.
Louise: Fam- I love it here, thank you! Please don’t pick me up!
Suzie: Wazzup fam, I’m having the best time ever and I never want to leave. Surfing was so much fun! I totally shredded the waves. Miss and love you so much! Thank you so much for letting me come on this trip.
Tyler: I miss you and love you!
Ava: I miss you but I am having such a good time!
Grace: Hugs the dogs for me, but I am having a great time. I love surfing! I miss and love y’all!
Annabeth: I am having a lot of fun and I really miss Bella! Thank you so much for dropping me off at the airport! Love y’all.
June 29, 2019
Hi California Families!
The group has arrived in San Francisco and headed off on their adventure! We are so excited for them to explore the Golden State!